A Critical Look at Diamond Sizes on Hands And Prices

Without a doubt, carat weight and size are the first things that come to mind when you hear people talk about diamonds. What most people fail to understand is that carat weight isn’t an accurate portrayal of the diamond’s size. Just because a diamond is heavier (higher carat weight) does not necessarily mean that it will look bigger.

This is because the physical dimensions of the diamond are affected by how it is proportioned. For example, a shallow stone (depth ~ 60%) will appear larger than another stone that is cut deeply (higher depth ~ 63%). Also, having a thick girdle thickness can also result in a smaller face-up view since weight is hidden in the body of the diamond.

Take note that carat weight and cut should be considered hand-in-hand as mentioned in the previous article. As a rule of the thumb, a diamond should not look too big or too small for its carat weight. Otherwise, it is a telltale sign of a poor cut and the brilliance of the stone will suffer.

a beautiful engagement ring fit

Just the right diamond size for the hand…


What Can You Do With a Limited Budget?

When buying diamonds, you will be forced to play a zero-sum game with the 4Cs – Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity. With a fixed budget, there’s no way you can improve one attribute without sacrificing another aspect of the diamond. Now, I know that the priority for most people is to get the largest looking diamond possible. My recommendation is that you should never sacrifice cut for size.

Here are some methods to help you get a bigger diamond without compromising cut. Instead of selecting a diamond with high clarity grades, going lower to clarity ratings like SI1-SI2 can enable you to buy a bigger diamond. Likewise, when it comes to choosing color, a less expensive G colored diamond can look almost identical to a D colored diamond in the face up view.

Besides the 4Cs, the use of settings can enhance the look of a diamond through optical illusions. For example, the size of the main diamond will appear bigger in a delicate ring setting with thin shanks. Likewise, the use of a halo to surround the center stone can create a grandiose appearance in the ring.

surrounding diamond with melees

When viewing this ring design at a distance of 2ft, you’ll get the perspective of a huge solitaire diamond…

If you are looking for a beautiful halo ring setting that will boost the appearance of a diamond’s size, I highly recommend that you check out James Allen and White Flash.

Does a Bigger Diamond Always Look Better on Your Finger?

There’s a saying from the ladies that a bigger diamond is a better diamond. Well, I disagree because I don’t think everyone would look great wearing an excessively large diamond on their hand.

Vice versa, a small diamond would look disproportionate if the recipient has thick fingers. When choosing a suitable carat size, it would definitely help if are able to visualize how the ring would look like on your recipient’s finger.

excessively large diamond vs suitable carat size for finger

Does bigger (left) always mean it’s better? Personally, I don’t think so due to size overkill.

Comparison of Different Diamond Carat Sizes on Finger

I often get asked questions like: “What’s the best size diamond for size 7 fingers?”, “Is 1 carat too small for a big hand?”, “What does a 1.5 carat diamond look like on a hand?” and other questions related to visualizing diamond rings when they are worn.

The truth of the matter is that there aren’t any hard or fast answers as everybody’s personal preference would be different. What may seem too small or big to you may be the ideal size for someone else. Below, you can view a comparison of diamond rings with different carat sizes that are worn on a size 7 finger.

0.50ct half carat diamond ring on finger size seven

0.5 ct diamond ring.

best 0.70 - 0.75 carat diamond engagement ring on finger size seven

0.75 ct diamond ring.

is 1 carat too small on hand

1ct diamond ring.

what does a 1.5 carat diamond look like on a hand

1.5ct diamond ring.

The most common finger sizes are between US 4 – US 7. In my opinion, diamonds ranging between 0.5ct – 1.5ct would look perfectly fine on these finger sizes. Personally, I think diamonds below 0.30ct would look small and I would recommend using a halo setting to spruce up the appearance of the engagement ring.

When it comes to large carat size diamonds above 1.5ct, I would recommend solitaire settings to prevent an overbearing appearance of the diamond when it is worn on the finger. With all that said, I need to emphasize that these are just my preferences and it shouldn’t dictate what you should or should not buy.

Anyway, here are a few more diamond rings that I purchased recently to help you see how big they look like in real life relative to different hand sizes.

best carat size for 4.5 finger

A 0.6ct pave diamond ring on a size 4.5 finger.

1ct diamond halo ring size on wife hands

1 carat halo diamond ring on my wife’s hand.

Buying ‘Light Carat Weight’ for Maximum Bang For Buck

For people on a budget, a good tactic to get the biggest bang for your buck is to buy shy. Prices jump at every tenth decimal mark 0.40, 0.50, 0.60, 0.70 and etc. and more significantly at the quarter marks like 0.50, 0.75, 1.00 and etc.

The idea of “buying shy” is to buy close to these carat weights in order to stay within the lower price bracket. Ultimately, you will still end up with a diamond that looks physically the same while avoiding the extra premium.

Here’s an illustration of what I mean.

carat sizes and prices

A price comparison of round brilliants performed at JamesAllen.com. Feel free to visit them and perform your own comparisons using different diamond specifications.

Buying slightly below the ‘magic’ numbers can result in some substantial savings.

If you take a look at the examples above, the diamonds have similar cut, clarity and color grades (and no fluorescence). Yet, each stone differs greatly in their value. Obviously, you can notice that there is a stark difference in pricing when a diamond hits the magical 1 carat weight.

In real life, a well cut 0.90 carat stone measures up at around 6.20mm by 6.20mm and a well cut 1.00 carat diamond measures up at around 6.50mm by 6.50mm. At a small difference of only 0.30mm, this difference is hardly distinguishable without a side by side comparison. This means that you get a diamond that faces up similarly to a full carat stone and avoid paying the extra 30% difference in prices.

Coming up on the next page, we show you why clarity is an attribute that is often misunderstood by consumers and how to avoid the common pitfalls associated with diamond clarity…

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  1. Jim Sanders-
    February 11, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    This site is a treasure trove of information! I think everyone who’s buying a ring would have a much easier time if they would even just read through the first few pages. Thanks for the very detailed information!


  2. Antoine Eleveld-
    June 13, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Do you have any tools I can use for diamond size comparison between different shapes? If you can provide illustrations of the actual diamond size on hand of different finger thickness, I would really appreciate it. I’m also wondering what is a good diamond size for 5.5 finger length?

  3. Paul Gian-
    June 14, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I’ve actually compiled a downloadable pdf file on diamond measurements in correlation to their carat weights here: https://beyond4cs.com/carat/size-chart/

    You may want to refer to the images above and determine for yourself what’s the best size for a US size 5.5 finger. I would say that your finger and palm size may be similar to that of the 4.5 finger size example I listed.

  4. Wendy Kelly-
    March 1, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Is half carat diamond too small and can you recommend 5 top diamond jewellers in manhattan please?

  5. Paul Gian-
    March 2, 2018 at 2:25 am

    I don’t think a half a carat diamond is too small by any measure and it is a pretty respectable size. Really, you should buy what your budget dictates and allows.

    Also, read this: https://beyond4cs.com/best-places-to-buy-diamonds/

    A couple of these vendors have headquarters based in New York.

  6. Dan-
    July 18, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Hello Paul,

    I found your website, and it really helped me on this process.

    I actually got started looking at rings at Costco and then some jewelry stores. Costco like you said there was no knowledgeable folks, and while the price is right on clarity and color, there is much to be desired on cut and certificate.

    A friend of mine recently purchased a ring for his girl, and he was pleased as punch. Paid $4K for a wedding set with .9 carat in a halo setting, and the wedding band. looks nice, but looking at the photo looks kind of dull to me. he says that the set appraised at 8K but I don’t see how that can be possible. I think the jewelry store just upped the appraisal. now he has to pay insurance on 8K rather than 4k which is more likely the real value.

    I am not in any mood to get ripped off because I am not knowledgeable enough on this area.

    Anyhow, I am also on the market. I read your articles and I am getting educated on this process.

    I agree with you on the cut of the diamond issue, I see how it makes a difference, and why some imperfections are ok as long as they are not obvious or right on the table part of the cut.

    1) Budget. for the engagement ring part, I am trying to stay as close to $3,200 as possible, all included. stone and setting.

    2) Any personal preferences or specifications? What kind of look do you want to achieve? Must the diamond be within some specific color grade and etc…

    I think I want to follow your advice and go for the sparkle.
    I think if I can get an eye clean with a good cut I am ok.
    size is whatever I can get in that budget.
    Here is the problem I have, my luck, that my girl’s fingers are on the short and thick range. her ring size is a whopping 9.5! I just hope the diamond isn’t too small on her hands.
    so that means I have some ground to cover and therefore the setting has to be a halo or something to that effect.
    stuff that we cant see does not matter, and no problem on clarity as long as it is eye clean. color the same, I was looking at some in the J range.

    I have attached pics of the two settings that I like that I found on the web and I know closely match rings that she liked at the store when we were just walking by a store.

    3) Tell us more about yourself or the recipient (if you are getting it for someone else) of the diamond ring.
    I am getting this for my girl.
    We met in January of 2016 and just now we are talking engagement.
    She does like to be very feminine and have her nails and hair well done.
    She prefers white gold so probably a 14K white gold setting would have to do.

    Let me know what you can do for us.

    thank you again for your help.


  7. Paul Gian-
    July 19, 2018 at 9:36 am

    This review of Costco should be worth your time reading: https://beyond4cs.com/reviews/costco/

    First of all, the appraisal document is just as useless as toilet paper. I think you already suspected that. Now, if the appraisal value is really so wonderful and the set was purchased at 4K, SELL the set to the company valuing it for 8k for $6000. See if they will buy it. This way, everyone wins right? Your friend earns $2000 and the company buys it at a cheaper valuation of less than $2000.

    In reality, the company won’t buy it in. NOT even at a price of $3000 or $2000 (probably lower) because they know what’s its “worth”. The useless piece of document is just a feel good factor and punishes you for higher insurance costs. These is how scumbags in the industry misrepresent diamond jewelry and why you NEVER buy a diamond without a GIA or AGS report.

    A well made setting like that will cost around $1,500:

    This leaves you around 2k for the center stone. Her finger size is enormous and that would make anything she wears look relatively smaller. So, you do need to beef up finger coverage and a halo setting is a smart way to do that.

    I did a comprehensive search for you and would recommend these diamonds:

    I have an extremely strong preference for the first diamond as it has better light performance and is the MUCH better buy.

  8. Ujjwal-
    October 26, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Hello Paul – Thanks for educating prospective diamond buyers. Would you please recommend what carat size diamond would be good for ring size 2.5?

    Also, We might trade-up diamond in the future. With that in mind, Would you recommend James Allen vs Whiteflash vs Mervis Diamond Importers vs BlueNile?

    Whiteflash / Mervis Diamond Importers – Trade up is only 100% of what I paid for the diamond.
    James Allen / BlueNile – Trade up is to spend 2 times what I have spent on the diamond I have purchased.

  9. Paul Gian-
    October 27, 2020 at 8:01 am

    I would say anything between a 0.5ct to a 1ct diamond would be good for a ring size 2.5 finger. If you have the intention to upgrade, White Flash is the best vendor to get your engagement ring. Their policies are superb for people who want to trade in their rings in future and they have a very high quality selection of loose diamonds.

  10. Elli-
    December 27, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Hello and thanks for all this informations it’s really helped me. Can I learn the carat and finger size on the first picture? One you called “right size for hand” because it is really look perfect. So I can have an idea about carat size for my ring. Thanks again for your help!

  11. Paul Gian-
    December 28, 2020 at 4:01 am

    I don’t have the exact carat weight and corresponding finger size off my head. I would estimate the size of this diamond to be around 1 carat and the finger size from 5-6.

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